Last night I watched the CNN town hall meeting featuring the Democratic candidates for president. I think all three of the candidates did well. Hillary showed that she knows something about Abraham Lincoln. Sanders remained on message. I’m still not sure why O’Malley is still running, but every time I see him I am more impressed.
A member of the audience asked Hillary what she would say to Republican voters if she won the general election. Hillary responded with a Barack Obama-like answer about reaching across the aisle and finding common ground. It is an anti-culture wars message of unity, nationalism, and civic humanism.
Obama has lamented how his republican/civic humanist vision for a politics informed by the common good did not work during his two terms in office. (Yet he continues to preach it, as evidenced in his recent State of the Union address). Despite the soaring rhetoric of his 2004 speech at the Democratic Convention, the country will be more divided than ever when he leaves office next year.
If Obama could not pull it off, is it realistic to expect that Hillary will have greater success in finding common ground and ending the divisiveness?
I really don’t think so.
Hillary has far too much historical baggage. Many conservatives despise her. I mean a deep hatred. One might say that our so-called culture wars began in the 1970s or 1980s, but they really reached a fevered pitch in the 1990s during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Many conservatives and evangelicals have not forgotten these years and they associate Bill’s indiscretions and lies with Hillary.